Some food carts see perks of offering vegetarian options

City reviews food carts each year in several categories

Published On: Oct 31 2012 06:18:12 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 31 2012 08:52:29 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Mobile food carts in Madison may be increasing their meatless options.

The city's Vending Oversight Committee is meeting Wednesday night to discuss the growing need for vegetarian menu items.

Food carts such as FIB's Fine Italian Beef and Sausage are a staple in downtown Madison. FIB's has been serving food to downtown meat-lovers for more than five years and, despite its name, the food cart also has vegetarian options.

"We don't sell hundreds a week. We sell a few (vegetarian options) a day, and I think it makes the customers happy," said owner John Handley.

Every year, the city reviews all the food carts and rates them based on taste, design of their cart and originality. Warren Hansen, the city's street vending coordinator, said the city can't require the mobile restaurants to offer vegetarian items, but having a variety can boost a cart's score.

"I think it's good business. There are a lot of vegetarians in Madison, and if you don't have a vegetarian option on your menu, you're not going to get their business," Hansen said.

"I actually do think there is a good variety. It seems like some carts have more, some have less (vegetarian options), but if you wander around long enough, you can find some good vegetarian food," said vegetarian Betsy Lawton.

Out of nearly 50 food carts, FIB's topped the ratings list this year. The ratings help determine food cart sites for the following year.

"That means we get to keep our spot in front of Starbucks on the square, and that's why we're thrilled," Handley said.

Food cart reviewers this year also suggested giving a food cart additional points for using recycled or biodegradable materials. At this point, that's just a suggestion, but it could be a part of next year's review.